Football gods shine on Sun Devils in victory

For anyone who has watched the Sun Devil football team this year the end of the 30-29 win over the University of Arizona in Tucson seemed quite fitting in a season as unpredictable as ever. You can't script this stuff people.

After several close losses, two because of missed/blocked extra point attempts, getting a win because of two blocked extra points showed that maybe, just maybe, karma does exist.

"Our guys have fought all season obviously, we've had some very close football games and we ended up winning one," coach Dennis Erickson mentioned after the win. "The football gods finally got on our side, I guess the extra point god got on our side and we were able to block two obviously that was the key to the game.

"Our guys fought and so did Arizona. Arizona is a good football team, they've got a lot of character and we went back-and-forth and back-and-forth and we got behind and we fought back. What a football game, if you weren't coaching in it, it would be really fun to watch."

The hero of both blocked kicks, 6'5" junior defensive lineman James Brooks made two of the biggest plays of his life tonight, and bowl appearance or not, this win has to give the team some optimism going forward, and he is a big reason for that.

"That's why you recruit 6'7" guys," Erickson said with a smile. "Anytime you win your last game and beat the University of Arizona, it's a rivalry game; of course it gives you some stuff going into next year."

The first half of the game was a punt-fest with U of A setting a season high with 7 punts in the first quarter alone. ASU had the lead 6-0 on two Weber field goals going into the half, but in the second half and overtime both teams seemed much more comfortable offensively, and if it weren't for the final block, this game would've gone into a third overtime.

"I think we started to get a feel, both teams, about what we were doing, and what people were doing defensively, and I think you wear out a little bit on defense as the game goes on and I think that's what happened. You go into overtime and nobody stopped anybody. That's how overtime goes with how many plays you run. I think that's what happened a little bit, and then you make some adjustments of course."

Making the adjustments work for the Sun Devils on the field was sophomore quarterback Brock Osweiler, who in making his first start completed 22-49 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown, while also leading the Devils in rushing with 19 rushes for 81 yards.

While the game wasn't as clean as last week's performance, Osweiler showed a lot of leadership and heart to will his team to victory, something the team desperately needed after the Wildcats took the lead early in the second half.

"Brock is such a competitor," Erickson pointed out, "we all forget that was his first start. A lot of times when you haven't played you don't see the field quite as good, so he rushed out of the pocket a few times, but he made some big runs for first downs. He's just a warrior, a competitor.

"They've got a great quarterback in Nick Foles. That drive he made when we were up, that drive he made to tie it up when we blocked the extra point was huge. So they've got a good football team, a lot of character, I'm just proud. We've been through a lot of ups and downs. More downs then ups but they fought back so I'm just so happy for the players, the coaches and everybody, and obviously our fans."

While Osweiler will get the publicity as MVP of the 2010 Territorial Cup, many will argue that senior place-kicker Thomas Weber deserved the honor going 5-5 on field goal attempts in what only can be described as a valiant performance.

"Thomas hadn't had the best year he could possibly have, but he sure did today," Erickson said warmly. "He got his confidence back last week; you could tell against UCLA he made kicks. He's kicking good in practice and he knocked ‘em too, that 52-yarder could've made it by 60."

So now the 6-6 Sun Devils will wait on the NCAA's decision on whether or not they deserve a bowl berth, but for coach Erickson this win marked an important first for him and bowl birth or not, this win was as big a win for the program as he's had since arriving in 2007.

"For me it just means that we've won six games. I've been in this a long time, and to be very honest with you that was the first overtime win I've ever been in, in college, so it's a little stressful but it's great to win this rivalry with right now where we're at and how our guys have fought back after losing those close games, I'm just excited about where we're at and where we're going."


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